RUSKIN, Fla. — Florida’s fall tomato deal is shaping up as a typical one.
In mid-October, central Florida growers began harvesting light volumes of grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.
In central Florida, mature-greens and romas should begin production in early November.
Buyers shouldn’t expect to see bigger volumes until closer to Thanksgiving, said Gerry Odell, chief farming officer for Immokalee-based Lipman.
“From my experience and the weather we’ve had, you won’t see any volume out of Florida until after Nov. 15,” he said in late October. “Around Thanksgiving is when the deal starts to hit its stride. This year won’t be any different. We anticipate very light volumes in early November.”
In early November, larger volumes of grape tomatoes are expected, with mature-greens and romas not scheduled to begin in volume until after mid-November, said Tony DiMare, vice president of the Homestead-based DiMare Co.
In late October, DiMare characterized markets and overall tomato demand as strong.
“The quality of the grapes is excellent, and mature-green quality will also be good,” DiMare said. “Expect light yields on the early crops the first couple of weeks due to rain we had in August and September, which affected some of the settings on the early plantings.”
On romas, early fall markets have been high in California, and DiMare said he expects that market to remain strong once production begins in Florida in early November.
In south Florida, Immokalee’s deal is expected to begin around Thanksgiving, a little later this year than normal, DiMare said.
Chuck Weisinger, president and chief executive officer of Weis-Buy Farms Inc., Fort Myers, agreed roma prices should remain strong.
He said the Thanksgiving and Hanukkah holidays, which see families preparing meals, should help keep demand strong.
This year, Hanukkah is Nov. 27-Dec. 5.
“By the time Florida has a little volume, there should be some interest in people getting out and making special meals when Florida volume hits its stride,” Weisinger said. “Overall, I think we will have a great year. If the weather keeps the way it has been, we should see a good crop. It may start off a little irregularly, but we are looking for good crops this year.”
Wm. P. Hearne Produce Co. LLC, Wimauma, planned to begin shipping small volumes of grapes and cherries in late October.
“We should have steady supplies, good quality and good sizings,” Jeff Williams, president, said in late October. “The weather patterns look to bring a good and healthy crop this fall.”
Williams said last spring went well on tomatoes.
In late October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported these prices for 25-pound cartons of loose mature-greens 85% U.S. No. 1 or better from Quincy, Fla.: $16.95 for 5x6s, $14.95 for 6x6s and $11.95-12.95 for 6x7s.
Last year in mid-October, the USDA reported those same cartons from Quincy, Fla., selling for $13.95 for the 5x6s and 6x6s and $10.95-12.95 for the 6x7s.
For cherry tomatoes, the USDA in late October reported flats of 12 1-pint baskets from central and south Florida selling for $10.95-11.95.
Last year, flats of 12 1-pint baskets from Mexico crossing into Southern California sold for $10.95-12.95 in mid-October.
On grape tomatoes, the USDA reported $10.95-11.95 for flats of 12 1-pint baskets and $21.95 for 20-pound cartons of loose, medium large from central and south Florida.
Last year in mid-October, the USDA reported $13.95 for the flats and $25.95 for the cartons of loose, medium large from the Eastern Shore, Va.
Romas from central California in late October sold for $12.95 for 25-pound cartons of loose extra large and large with mediums fetching $11.95.
Last season in mid-October, romas from central California sold for $11.95-12.95 for 25-pound cartons of loose extra large and large.